If you're unable to pay off your debts using a debt-repayment plan or are overwhelmed by the amount of debt you owe, you may wish to obtain credit counseling.
Credit counseling is an affordable service aimed at helping consumers improve their debt-management habits and take steps towards improving their credit.
If you use a credit counseling service, be sure to check whether it is accredited by the Council on Accreditation or other accreditation service. These services help to eliminate fraudulent and predatory business practices by certifying that counseling services adhere to fair standards and practices.
Two major non-profit organizations that require their members to be accredited include:
National Foundation for Credit Counseling. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is a membership organization of counseling services. Each member of the NFCC is accredited by the Council on Accreditation. Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS), a widely known credit-counseling service, is a member of the NFCC. You can find a complete list of NFCC members at its Web site.
Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) is a membership organization that requires all members to receive third-party accreditation. You can find a directory of AICCCA members at its Web site.
In addition to using credit-counseling services, you may find that your state or local government provides counseling services.
Of course, good credit-management skills help most if you have them before you get in credit trouble.
The American Savings Education Council (ASEC) is a founding partner in Jump$tart, a coalition of non-profit organizations aimed at improving personal-finance literacy among young adults. The National Council on Economic Education (NCEE) is another non-profit organization aimed at boosting consumer education of personal-finance issues.